Study Reminds Us of Cultural Relevance of Conservation, Says Colleton
May 14, 2012
A recent study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) draws attention to the fascinating link between cultural diversity and biodiversity. In addition to identifying yet another human benefit to healthy and diverse natural environments, the findings help articulate an urgent message for conservation: “As the world grows less biologically diverse,” the researchers write, “it is becoming less linguistically and culturally diverse as well.”
The study uses improved datasets to delve more deeply into the co-ocurrence of linguistic and biological diversity in biodiversity hotspots, which account for 70% of the world’s languages. With indications that environmental degradation is correlated to the loss of languages and cultures over time, the study highlights the importance of conservation practices to address biodiversity loss. According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the current extinction rate is between 1,000 and 10,000 higher than it would naturally be, and it is driven by human activity such as pollution and over-exploitation of resources.
IGES President Nancy Colleton, who is actively involved in the IUCN’s Commission on Education and Communication(CEC), said of the study’s release:
“Every day we see evidence of the economic impact of changing environmental conditions, from extreme weather and climate events to the impact of increasingly scarce resources. This study reminds us of the cultural relevance of conservation and the fact that biodiversity impacts society in ways that we are only now beginning to understand.”
Colleton, who has been nominated to the post of Global Chair of the CEC, added that the study helps communicate the message of conservation. “This is a very human element of the many benefits we derive from nature. It is precisely the sort of story we should tell when approaching the public about why we need to use the world’s resources more responsibly.”